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Trump floats idea of election ‘delay’ amid unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through postal voting, even in states with all-mail votes.

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US President Donald Trump (AP/Alex Brandon)

US President Donald Trump (AP/Alex Brandon)

US President Donald Trump (AP/Alex Brandon)

US President Donald Trump has floated the idea of a “delay” to November’s presidential election.

Mr Trump raised the possibility as he made unsubstantiated allegations that increased postal voting will result in fraud.

The dates of federal elections are set by the US Congress, and the country’s constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the January 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.

Mr Trump tweeted: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

His tweet came on a day of bad economic news – the government reported that the US economy shrank at a dizzying 32.9% annual rate in the April-June quarter, by far the worst quarterly plunge ever, as the coronavirus outbreak shut down businesses, threw tens of millions out of work and sent unemployment surging to 14.7%.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through postal voting, even in states with all-mail votes.

Five states already rely exclusively on postal votes, and they say they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure that a hostile foreign actor does not disrupt the vote. Election security experts say that all forms of voter fraud are rare, including absentee balloting.

Mr Trump has increasingly sought to cast doubt on November’s election and the expected surge in postal and absentee voting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

And Mr Trump has called remote voting options the “biggest risk” to his re-election. His campaign and the Republican Party have sued to combat the practice, which was once a significant advantage for the Republicans.

Mr Trump is trailing in public and private polls and refused in an interview just weeks ago to commit to accept the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Mr Trump told Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview: “I have to see. Look … I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes’. I’m not going to say ‘no’, and I didn’t last time, either.”

Last month, Mr Trump told supporters in Arizona that “this will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country”.

Just months ago, in April, Mr Trump had ruled out the prospect of trying to change the election.

He said: “I never even thought of changing the date of the election. Why would I do that? November 3. It’s a good number. No, I look forward to that election.”

“I’m not thinking about it at all,” he added. “Not at all.”

Attorney general William Barr, speaking to a House committee earlier this week, claimed there was “a high risk” that postal voting would lead to “massive” fraud.

He said he had no “reason to think” the upcoming election would be rigged. But he said he believed “if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud”.

During the hearing, Mr Barr was asked about comments he made last month over foreign interference in the election through phoney ballots.

He said he did not have evidence that foreign countries could use them to change the outcome of an election. But he said it was “common sense” they would try.

PA